The Guns of Mars received a mixed review this week from Antony Jones over at SFbook Reviews. While 3 out of 5 stars is not a horrible rating, it is the lowest I've received so far, and I sincerely thank Mr. Jones for his honesty.
The review illustrated the weaknesses of the book, and included pretty much everything different people have criticized in the past, and then some. One major criticism regards the premise of Virtual Reality, and Morgan's displacement in time because of it. This is something that arises from this book being a sequel to Prisoner of Time, which was itself the sequel to Virtual Wiles. If you haven't read either of these books (or know of their existence), I understand how jumping into Guns might disorient you.
Another point of contention regards the pacing. A few people have mentioned that it is "rushed" toward the end, though this is the first time I've heard it referred to as "disjointed." The pacing is something I really couldn't help. There are parts of the story which unfold at different rates, and are therefore told to reflect the situation. I suppose I could have padded the hell out of certain sections, but then it would have become sluggish. Any slow sections were likewise unavoidable, as we'd end up removing the intellectual elements from the narrative to speed them up.
The critique of the characters is something I haven't heard before, so I'm not sure if anyone else has found them to "lack the definition needed to turn them into real people." Perhaps this is another flaw of this being the 3rd volume in a series. Added characterization can be found in the first two books, which isn't to say I didn't spend significant time fleshing them out in The Guns of Mars.
It all comes down to individual taste, and you really can't please everyone on all fronts. It can actually be counter-productive to hear nothing but praise, so I really am satisfied with this review. It gives me a look at disparate points of view, and may help me in the creation of future works.
Now, get yourself a copy of The Guns of Mars and tell me what you really think!